We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

The fact that my views are considered controversial is a reflection of how mad society has become:

I want maths teachers to teach maths, history teachers to teach history, literature teachers to educate children about the best English writers, poets and playwrights.

I want the police to investigate actual crimes like rape, burglary, stabbings and muggings, not paint their cars rainbow colours and police jokes, banter in WhatsApp groups and offensive tweets.

I want the media to tell me the facts of what is going on and let me decide what to think about it. If I want a journalist’s opinion, which I mostly don’t, I’ll read opinion columns. Just tell me what’s happening.

I want banks to provide bank services, ice cream makers to make ice cream and razor companies to make razors. I want transnational corporations to pay their taxes. I don’t want them to tell me what to think – I don’t need a moral lecture from Mr Burns off the Simpsons.

I want doctors to help me *choose* the best treatment for me and my family, not enforce a one-size-fits-all solution on me because of Government diktats. I don’t need scary advertising campaigns that misrepresent the threat to encourage me to look after my health.

I want the military to spend every waking moment working to get better at killing people who want to kill me, my family and my fellow citizens. I don’t care how diverse, progressive or inclusive they are. And I am outright hostile to this if it affects performance. /6

I want the legal system to reward productive, lawful behaviour and deter unproductive, unlawful behaviour. I want psychopathic, evil and dangerous people to be kept away from me, my family and my fellow law-abiding citizens.

I want politicians to implement the democratic wishes of the people of this country, even when I don’t personally agree with them. If the majority of my fellow citizens vote for something I don’t agree with, I can campaign against this while accepting the democratic outcome.

I want Government to interfere in my life as little as possible, while recognising that Government is necessary. I want to pay as little tax as lawfully possible, but enough to fund the things only Government can do.

I want an absolute meritocracy. Hard work, dedication and talent must always be rewarded. If you are lazy, don’t apply yourself or aren’t contributing, you don’t deserve to be rewarded as much as people who work their arse off.

I want people to be treated equally. Not as inferior OR superior. Just equal. There is no such thing as positive discrimination, just discrimination.

Konstantin Kisin, who would be a truly splendid fellow but for the fact he dislikes Marmite.

Banishing the demon drink from Wales

My late mother-in-law used to tell a funny story about how, when she was a child in Wales during the 1930s, she was taken to the doctor. Her mother feared there must be something terribly wrong with her because she did not like tea. Why, she wouldn’t even take a cup with when the minister visited!

Wales is a different place now.

Sale of coffee and tea to under 16s could be banned in Wales

Samizdata quote of the day

Why do people outside USA give a damn about technical legal rulings regarding which tier of American government gets to make certain American laws? Particularly bizarre coming from people in countries with more restrictive abortion laws than Mississippi (France for example). I find that far more noteworthy than the underlying issue of abortion-in-America.

Not seen much concern overseas about UK’s horrendous Online Safety Bill, I guess folks too focused on cosplaying Americans and pretending changes in US laws will have any influence on long settled issues elsewhere.

– Perry de Havilland

It pays to argue against what your opponents actually believe

They say that the Earth’s magnetic poles swap places every few hundred thousand years.

“Roe v Wade: US Supreme Court ends constitutional right to abortion”, reports the BBC.

A miracle or a catastrophe, take your pick, but how did this happen after half a century in which Roe and Wade were the fixed poles by which the compass of the American abortion debate could be set? It is bad form for me to quote myself, but in this post, “How not to change minds on abortion”, I made the point about as well as I am ever likely to:

…in the US and the UK, the pro-choice side almost never engaged with what their opponents actually believed. Over the years I must have read hundreds of Guardian articles on abortion, mostly in its US section because abortion is such a live issue there. I do not recall a single one that argued against the main sticking point of the pro-life side, namely that abortion takes a human life – let alone argued for it. On other issues the Guardian would occasionally let the odd Conservative or other non-progressive have their say about fossil fuels or the nuclear deterrent or whatever, and would often feature writers who, while left wing themselves, at least knew enough of the right wing view to argue against it. However when it came to abortion the line always was, and judging from Twitter in the last few days, still is, that opposition to abortion arises (a) only from men and (b) only from men who wish to control women’s bodies.

It works, a bit. Some men who read that will decide that they do not want to be that sort of man, others will decide that they do not want to be thought to be that sort of man. But an argument that does not even acknowledge the existence of female opponents of abortion will obviously not change their minds. Nor will silence reassure women who are not firmly pro or anti. If the Left will not talk to them about their doubts, then by definition the only arguments they hear will come from the other side.

Related post: It pays to brief your own side properly. I might make a series of “It pays to…” posts.

Samizdata quote of the day

My Twitter is full of people angry about the insane cost of living increases while my LinkedIn is full of nerdy middle class engineers in safe, white collar jobs excitedly praising net zero policies and their role in building a “sustainable” future.

Tim Newman

Some thoughts on the Assange case

Julian Assange is on the verge (as he has been for ten years, but this time for real) of being extradited from the UK to the US. The question I ask is, has he done anything wrong?

If it were the case that he had supplied information that would have been useful to a hostile power then I would say hang the bastard. But that is not what the US government is accusing him of. The accusation is that he helped to steal the information. Now, if someone steals my stuff, I want them to have their hands cut off. Along with a few other appendages. But Assange “stole” information not stuff. And remember the US government is not claiming that that information would have been useful to a foreign power.

Which puts a rather different gloss on things. US government information is – if we are to take the US government’s own position seriously – owned by the US people. They have every right to see it. More or less. As well as military secrets there may be commercial contracts which – possibly – they don’t want to disclose. For instance, one of my frustrations in the UK was that you couldn’t inspect the contract of a Train Operating Company because it was deemed to be “commercially confidential”. Whatever, it doesn’t apply in this case.

So, it would appear that all Assange has done is to supply the US population with something it already owned and had every right to have.

Have I got that right?

Samizdata quote of the day

“The developed world’s response to the global energy crisis has put its hypocritical attitude toward fossil fuels on display. Wealthy countries admonish developing ones to use renewable energy. Last month the Group of Seven went so far as to announce they would no longer fund fossil-fuel development abroad. Meanwhile, Europe and the U.S. are begging Arab nations to expand oil production. Germany is reopening coal power plants, and Spain and Italy are spending big on African gas production. So many European countries have asked Botswana to mine more coal that the nation will more than double its exports.”

Bjorn Lomborg

Samizdata quote of the day

Remember that the goal of politicians and civil servants is to get re-elected and to grow the power and budgets of their department. That is what their core goal is, and let’s be clear, they are very, very successful by that measure.

The thing that most politicians fear the most is that we realize how little we actually need them. We might, you know, get on with our lives and not think about these self absorbed narcists.

Fraser Orr

Samizdata quote of the day

“While dictators usually lie about everything they do, they are often candid about what they would like to do.”

Gary Kasparov

Ve’re askink ze qvestions!”

Last Wednesday, Jodi Shaw received a Hero of Intellectual Freedom Award – and got to rap on-stage in NYC, four years after Smith College told her she couldn’t because rapping while white was racist.

The freedom to rap while white is a form of free speech it has never occurred to me to pursue, but something Jodi said struck me.

“These terms are never defined … It’s just ‘social justice’.”

“And you’re afraid to ask,” she added, because “that might put a spotlight on you,” and people will think you are racist … According to Shaw, there was an “ever-present terror” at Smith “that any unverified student allegation of racism, or any other ‘-ism,’ has the power to crush our reputations, ruin our livelihood, and even endanger the physical safety of ourselves or our family members.”

It’s not the first time a movement has refused to define its central idea.

Himmler vehemently directed “not to issue any decree concerning the definition of the term ‘Jew’ … with all these foolish commitments we will only be tying our hands.” (The quote is from Himmler’s letter to Berger, July 28th 1942, Nuremberg Document No. 626. The point is assessed in Hannah Arendt, ‘The Origins of Totalitarianism’)

Identify a respected institution. Kill it. Gut it. Wear its carcass as a skin suit, while demanding respect. I’ve seen that spot-on description of how the woke operate applied so many times – to institutions. But it’s just as true of ideas. Totalitarians always gut the ideas they proclaim of all actual meaning. The woke wear the murdered carcass of words like racism (structural racism) or justice (social justice) as a skin suit, while demanding respect.

Samizdata quote of the day

“The British Courts and our legal system are the envy of the world. We know this, because so many people choose to illegally cross the Channel in order to exploit them.”

Lee Rotherham.

Autumn is coming

You may think that mid-June is a little early for me to be saying that, but I do see signs that Britain, and perhaps the world, is not as green as it once was:

  • Ben Spencer and Harry Yorke in the Times: “Ministers quietly abandon ‘green crap’ as focus shifts to food security”

    Boris Johnson has scaled back plans to rewild the country as the government retreats from the green agenda to focus on the cost-of-living crisis.

    Ministers last year announced a post-Brexit scheme that would pay farmers up to £800 million a year — a third of the farming budget — to transform agricultural land into nature-rich forests, coastal wetlands, peatlands and wildflower meadows.

    But the fund, called the landscape recovery scheme, has been quietly slashed to just £50 million over three years, less than 1 per cent of the budget.

  • Nick Cohen in the Guardian: “Why bankers close their ears to the ‘climate nut jobs’ talking about the end of the world”

    If the future remembers any corporate villain from 2022, it will be Stuart Kirk. The satirically titled head of “responsible investment” at HSBC looks the part: shaven headed, tightly trimmed beard, hard, sharp eyes. Like all the best villains, the banker’s arguments are insidiously appealing. He says out loud what his audience thinks, cutting through polite society’s pious crap to reveal its selfish desires.

    “There’s always some nut job telling me about the end of the world,” he told the Financial Times’s Moral Money conference – and I haven’t made that title up either. “Who cares if Miami is six metres underwater in 100 years? Amsterdam has been six metres underwater for ages and that’s a really nice place.”

  • A poll by Redfield and Wilton Strategies asked, “Would Britons support or oppose the Government suspending its environmental taxes to reduce the cost of living?” The result:

    Support 49%
    Oppose 18%
    Neither 23%

    A majority (58%) of 2019 Conservative voters and a plurality (46%) of 2019 Labour voters support the suspension of environmental taxes.